Friday, January 27, 2012

City of Tranquil Light Bo Caldwell

Exotic locations, adventure, earthquake, kidnapping, murders, bandits, government upheaval, romance, and a powerful message that cuts to the heart; if that sounds interesting than you’ll love this book, I know I did. Edward Geisler, a Mennonite Missionary to inland China, shows up at Will’s family farm in Oklahoma in 1906. He’s there to speak to their church about the need for missionaries in China and after talking with Will he invites him to go there with him. He tells Will that “The suffering is great, as is the need for help, physical and spiritual.” Will, who is 21 years old, struggles with his decision and yet leaves everything and everyone he knows to go where he feels God, is calling him. In China, Will finds a dangerous dark place, the Mandarin language is hard to learn, every day life is difficult, but he also finds love for the people and the villages and towns where he travels, and for Edwards’ sister in-law Katherine, a nurse who has traveled with them.

The story is told from two viewpoints: Will’s memories and Katherine’s journal entries. It is based on the author’s maternal grandparents, and many other missionaries that went to China. Beautifully written, it grabbed my heart and spoke to my soul. There are so many good quotes I could have underlined the whole book. One of my favorites is when Edward, looking back on his life there, tells Will “To love a place. To hold it so dearly that one aches at the memory of it. Are we not most fortunate.” I read this novel on my kindle, and have to say it is one I’ll read again.

Backyard Finch 
oils on Cigar Box lid
Art by John Barrett

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